While Spain has many traditional regional foods, certain popular dishes are available throughout the country. Complemented by the perfect weather in the south of Spain, there is no shortage of the freshest vegetables, tomatoes, fruit and other salad items. The coasts of the country offer the best in “catch of the day” fish and seafood, cooked in a variety of different ways, while farmers breed the best cattle, sheep, chickens, rabbits, and goats for fresh tender meat.
Whether you’re enjoying a light tapas mix as a snack or a full blown meal, there is plenty to choose from. Spain offers a variety of cured hams and sausages, along with some delicious pies - perfect for a snack.
Before you embark on your gastronomic adventure, tantalize your taste-buds with some of the most mouth-watering Spanish dishes listed below. Actively experiment with the regional offerings for a truly unforgettable experience.
1. Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician octopus)
Pulpo a la gallega is a Galician octopus dish, also known as pulbo a feira (fair style octopus), as it is traditionally cooked during the festivities for the patron saint of Lugo. While the dish hails from Galicia, these days it can be found all over Spain. The octopus is cooked in water with potatoes, salt, smoked paprika, and extra virgin olive oil. Don’t underestimate this simple recipe - it packs a punch!
Pulpo a la Gallega
Website: The History of Pulpo de la Gallega
2. Gazpacho Andaluz
Gazpacho Andaluz, a recipe from Andalusia, is a delicious soup, cooked using bread crumbs, olive oil, vinegar, and raw vegetables, including tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic. It is traditionally served cold and is particularly popular in the hot summer months as most enjoy the refreshing taste of the cooling dish. Most Spanish supermarkets sell ready-made gazpacho, which can be prepared in minutes at home.
Website: Spanish Cold Tomato Soup
3. Jamón Serrano and Jamón Iberico
Jamón Serrano (or ham from the Sierra in English) is a dry-cured Spanish ham, which is served in thin slices. It is often accompanied by slices of the best local cheese. It originates from the Roman times. Another cured ham popularly found in Spain is the Jamón ibérico - from the black Iberian pigs. Usually consumed as a starter, the ham can also be enjoyed as a bocadillo - a type of sandwich.
Jamón Serrano and Jamón Iberico
Website: Jamón Serrano and Jamón Iberico
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4. Spanish Chorizo
Spanish chorizo is a sausage made from pork meat and fat. It is seasoned with garlic and paprika, before it’s stuffed into a non-animal edible skin. It’s in reddish colour, due to the special Spanish paprika called “pimenton” used in the ingredients. Chorizo can be eaten on its own as a snack, but it’s also often cooked in various dishes and pies.
Website: Spanish Chorizo
Paella is a delicious rice dish that originated from Valencia. While the original dish includes chicken and rabbit with green and white beans, paella is also served with seafood and a range of other vegetables. Saffron is added to give the rice a rich, yellow colour. Most restaurants only serve paella for two persons or more. At festivals a giant paella is often cooked up and served to the crowd.
6. Rabo de Toro
Rabo de toro is similar to the English oxtail recipe; its cooked from slices taken from the tail of a bull. The meat is first marinated then cooked up in a delicious rich stew with wine, tomatoes, carrots, and leeks, or other seasonal vegetables, before being served in a tasty gravy.
Rabo de Toro
Website: Rabo de Toro (Spanish)
7. Pimientos de Padrón
Pimientos de Padrón is a variety of small green peppers from Padrón in Galicia, Spain. Unlike many mild bell peppers grown in Spain, these little peppers are hot, but completely delicious. They are cooked up in a cast iron pan with salt and olive oil and served as a delicious starter.
Pimientos de Padrón
Website: Pimientos de Padrón
8. Gambas al Ajillo
Gambas al ajillo originates from Catalonia, but can be enjoyed in the many tapas bars in Spain. The dish is simple, but delicious; the shrimp is sautéed in olive oil, along with a little cayenne pepper and a dash of brandy.
Gambas al Ajillo
Website: Gambas al Ajillo
9. Empanada Gallega
Empanada gallega presents itself in a variety of delicious pies. It was traditionally from the Galicia region, before it was served throughout the country. The pies are filled with a variety of seasonal ingredients, including meat or tuna, and is often mixed with red pepper, onion, boiled egg and tomato sauce. Sold at restaurants and all the local bakeries, these tasty pies come in a variety of sizes, to suit even the most sizable appetite.
Website: Empanada Gallega de Bonito
10. Tortilla Española
Tortilla española is commonly known as Spanish omelette in English, but it is more of a tart or savoury cake, made from eggs and potatoes, occasionally cooked with onions or chives with added garlic or with added chopped ham. The tortilla is normally served cold as a light appetizer or as part of a selection of tapas although it is often served in Spanish homes as a light meal. Tortilla española can be found in all regions of Spain and is one of the country’s most famous and beloved dish.
Website: Tortilla Española
Treat your taste-buds to Spain's best dishes
While most Spanish cities do offer a range of all the popular international dishes, it’s always a good idea try out the many delicious and authentic Spanish dishes in the country.
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